With all the negative press on Russia appearing almost daily on our TV screens, one could easily be put off about visiting the country. Surprisingly though, the Western media’s portrayal of Russians couldn’t be further from the truth!
When I first decided to visit Moscow 18 months ago my friends and family said I was crazy. After all, Russia had just taken over Crimea and had allegedly shot down a passenger plane carrying 298 people.
However, after having visited Russia myself and seeing first-hand how Russians think and behave, this paranoid, Western view of an intrinsically racist, xenophobic and fascist country completely disintegrated.
If you were to ask an average Westerner what they knew about Russia, they’d mostly likely recall all the negative things they hear about Russia from the media. What is much less known about the country is the uniquely rich culture, warm hospitality of its people and stunningly beautiful architecture.
After my own recent trip to Russia – my first ever in fact – I was completely blown away by the people I met, the sights I saw and the efficiency of the Moscow metro system. Below I list the top 10 reasons why Moscow is the best city to visit right now.
1. It’s safe
During my trip to Moscow, there was tight security in all public places, especially in the metro areas with a strong police presence throughout the city.
I wasn’t accosted or harassed by the typical scam artists one finds in big cities such as aggressive ‘beggars’ and panhandlers – they were nowhere to be seen! In fact, over the course of my one week stay, I cannot recall a single instance where I felt uncomfortable or singled-out as a tourist.
2. The People
Despite the warnings of a growing anti-Western sentiment towards countries such as the United States and the UK, every person I spoke with in Moscow couldn’t have been nicer. The reality was that they were even more interested and friendlier to foreign visitors!
I’ve been to several cities where people shove, shout and are outright rude, particularly to tourists! This wasn’t the case in Moscow where I found the locals to be very conscientious, patient and polite.
3. Unique history and culture
Although technically part of Europe, Russian culture is distinctively unique when compared to most European countries. The country’s long and rich history, steeped in literature, ballet, painting and classical music has created an exciting cultural heritage that is bound to fascinate first-time visitors to the country.
Read about my Top 10 Things to See and Do in Moscow!
4. Bragging rights
With the rise in global travel, it can be difficult finding a holiday destination that your friends, family or work colleagues have never been to before – it’s great to discover somewhere unique and be the first to visit!
After returning from Moscow everyone I spoke to was fascinated by my trip and wanted to learn more about my adventure! To this day, I am still the only person within my wider circle of family and friends who has visited Russia.
5. It’s not overcrowded
When visiting cities such as London it can be extremely difficult to stop and admire the incredible sights because of the sheer amount of tourists – the same applies to many other cities I’ve visited with the exception of Moscow.
While the Western media’s negative portrayal of Russia has undoubtedly impacted tourism numbers, one of the key benefits to this is that cities such as Moscow are not clogged to the brim with snap-happy tourists fighting for the ultimate selfie shot.
You can relax and take your time in Moscow without feeling like you are on the set of ‘I am a Legend’.
6. It’s not overly commercial
Another benefit to Russia’s unpopularity in the West, is that Moscow is not a city of mass tourism and therefore less commercial.
Yes you do see the occasional ‘I love Moscow’ t-shirts and typical tourist memorabilia, but like any city that has not been exposed to tourism en masse, Moscow retains an authentic identity and unassuming charm.
7. The climate
While Russian winters can be particularly brutal, Moscow’s continental climate features warm and humid months from around May to September. With lots of parks, open-air music festivals and outdoor activities, the city of Moscow is a perfect summer destination.
8. Transport links
In addition to having perhaps the most extravagant decor in the world, the Moscow metro system provides a highly efficient way of travelling around the city and is extremely reliable. There is also a high-speed train that connects the airport with the city in less than an hour.